Golden State Warriors vs Toronto Raptors
Series Tied 1-1
After Toronto’s game one deconstruction of the reigning champs, it can be excused if you jumped on the “end of the dynasty” band wagon. I mean Drake is there, it’s a cool party. But game two showed a deeper truth that can’t be overlooked.
Game one was a fluke.
Don’t believe me. That’s cool. I get it.
Toronto got some far better than expected performances from non-Kawhi dudes in game one. Fred VanVleet dropped seventeen from the bench. He’s a seven PPG dude, on average. But that’s nothing compared with what Siakam did.
Pascal Siakam scored 32 points on 14-17 shooting. That’s an insane 82% from the field, and 2-3 from beyond the arc. The Warriors were willing to live with Siakam taking more shots…they just weren’t prepared for him to nearly double his shooting percentage and scoring total. His white-hot performance is the primary reason that the Warriors couldn’t complete several comeback attempts over the course of the second half, closing the gap several times before Siakam made improbable shot after improbable shot. Sixteen turnovers by the Warriors surely didn’t help, nor did a shaky night for the Splash brothers, who combined for only seven three-pointers between the two. Combined with the best game of Siakam’s career, Golden State’s struggles were enough to keep the Raptors in the driver’s seat, at least for a moment. The Warriors did do one interesting thing in game one. They held Kawhi to 23 points, and pressured him into a few uncharacteristically sloppy turnovers. In other words, they made him look human. That’s really important. Because if Kawhi isn’t the best player on the court by a wide margin, the Raptors are toast.
Game two looked similar in the first half, with Curry struggling to find his range, and the Raptors up by five at the half. It wouldn’t last. With DeMarcus Cousins spearheading a monster defensive effort to start the quarter, the Warriors reeled off eighteen unanswered points to put the Raptors in the type of hole they haven’t seen since the first two games of the Milwaukee series. The death lineup looked different, with Boogie’s big body controlling the paint on both ends, but the results were the same. Smothering defense leading to easy and/or uncontested looks. Marc Gasol has been a thorn in the Warriors side going back to his days with Memphis, but with the addition of Cousins presence, Gasol was a non-factor, scoring only six points in thirty-one minutes.
The Raptors made it a game late, closing to within two in the final minute, but whether it was a flawed rotation or a lack of respect, they left Andre Igoudala wide open beyond the arc with all the time in the world. If anyone thought that the Warriors were going to let the Raptors off easy, the former Finals MVP silenced ScotiaBank Arena and more importantly, Drake.
So where does this leave the series? At 1-1, it’s hard to imagine the Raptors staying alive if they can’t steal one at Oracle arena. That 18-0 run in the third quarter didn’t just swing the momentum of the game and the series. It reminded us all of exactly who this Golden State team is. The best and most versatile NBA team we’ve seen in decades. The Warriors came from behind and stole home court advantage. If Kawhi and company can’t find a way to regain it, this series might not last the six games that we predicted a week ago.
Image Source: AP Images/Gregory Shamus